1966 Plymouth Barracuda

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1966 Plymouth Barracuda
RCR Plymouth Barracuda Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Plymouth
Model Barracuda
Year 1966
Owner Paul
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season The Pacific Fister
Air Date February 1, 2015
Credits u/lanator

A gentleman's GT Car that looks best from the rear. Thank you to Ted Stoltz for helping with photography.


Hey, it's Undyne's car!


(spoken through a loudspeaker):

If I do a parody of Barracuda by Heart for this review, will you let the hostage go? Oh dammit he shot the hostage. Move, move, move!



1966 Plymouth Barracuda. Plymouth Barracuda, this isn't a muscle car. Mm-mmm, not yet. The Barracuda didn't become the apostrophe “‘Cuda” until 1970. That was when the iconic shape started. Up until that point the Barracuda was a gentleman's GT car. The type of car for the civil male who championed equal rights in the 1960s not through micro bus signs and LSD but through progressive and fair hiring practices at his warehouse. The Barracuda was, in the mid 60s, a comfortable long distance cruiser which was fast but didn't pat you on the back and gobble your knob for climbing in the back the way a Challenger did.

And so this is it, the last episode of the Pacific Fister. It's our shortest season yet but it was also one of the most interesting to film. Particularly once we got to Portland which is where we filmed this. It's a city with a righteous sense of moral authority about riding bikes on the sidewalk. It's understood that you'll do your best not to be in anybody's way. Even if the homeless don't seem to have any sense of urgency about no longer being homeless. It's a laid-back city but also tightly wound in a way. At PDX there's a line to check your bags and another to check your privilege. It's exactly the sort of organic grass-fed bison burger-eating community of Reddit vinyl enthusiasts that you think it is.

Portland is one big “Called it!”


Even though the Barracuda isn't really a muscle car it did exist at the beginning of the Horsepower Wars - in fact, it predated it. The Barracuda fastback predates the Mustang by about two weeks, taking the streets on April Fool's Day in 1964.

This Barracuda rocks a 273 cubic inch, 4.5-liter LA V8, a no-frills automatic transmission, dual exhaust, four-barrel Holley carb and a better front suspension. This was a one-family car purchased by Paul's father and it descended down the family tree until here it is. And in a way the Barracuda is a car that represents bloodlines itself.

The Barracuda is an A Body platform based on the Plymouth Valiant. It was a two-way street though as the Barracuda gave back to the Valiant in the form of the 1964 Barracuda. I'm talking about the taillights and the fenders getting incorporated into the 1965 Valiant range. Plymouth even had a little outside help bringing the Barracuda up to a higher aesthetic standard as Chrysler teamed up with Pacific Plate Glass to produce this huge back window.

And if there's one thing I remember most about this car, look at this back window. Man, that's big. I can't imagine how expensive this was to make. And it's curved. On either side, look at that. In fact, this was the largest ever back window installed on a production car at this time.

This is still technically classified as a pony car but it felt like a pony car in name only. The LA V8 produced 180 horsepower which amounts roughly to 130 kilowatts. Right? There's a 4.5-liter V8. Well it's the same thinking that Lincoln Towncars have. The 4.6 mil- Modular V8 only makes 210. You're meant to get in this and drive and drive and drive and drive. You're not puttin' down times in this thing, you're driving coast to coast back and forth in this.

You could have other engines. You could also have a 2.8-liter slant six or a 3.7-liter slant six. But this is Mopar and it's hard to talk 1960s and early 70s Mopar without getting into the Horsepower Wars so let's touch on it just for a little bit.

The Horsepower Wars is exactly what it sounds like, a decades-long cock-measuring contest over a unit of measurement that isn't even recognized by the International System of Units. The war itself dates back to the 1960s or we could argue and go back to the fi- The thing about What was the first muscle car? Mrrmrmr muscle car a doo sr mr muscle car an four V8 br br outlaw br maybe face down no it was a Pontiac GTO aprprp Chrysler


By 1966 the Dodge Charger and the Pontiac GTO were squeezin' out numbers in excess of 340 horsepower. That's just an average car, 340. Without any expectation that your regular driver could handle any of it. Remember, this is all engine, no brakes, no suspension, no anything.

It's like throwing an accountant into bed with Brooke Wylde when all he's ever done is missionary with his high school sweetheart. But the Horsepower Wars weren't necessarily about performance as much as they were about public perception. But! The Horsepower Wars kick started the modernization of the automobile with numbers and statistics beginning to outrank function and public perception. Also, insurance premiums doubled for performance cars.

While the oil crisis of 1973 caused gas prices to surge, and while oil prices did eventually drop in the 80s, the Horsepower Wars never let up. The oil crisis brought in smaller engines, higher compression and of course the wonderful thing that is turbocharging. So that's what this Barracuda is: it's the very very beginning of the classically-accepted beginning of the Horsepower Wars. You can say the Mustang started it and of course it is the pony car but remember, in the first year the V8 that they offered was only a 260. Right, initially the 289 wasn't there. Of course, for me I say the first muscle car was the Falcon Sprint because Falcon 1963-and-a-half.


Horsepower increased – and here's the interesting thing, the- I know, we'll get back to this Barracuda – but horsepower, between 1990 and now, has increased 80%. And that speaks to how far we've come in a relatively short timespan. Of course even with these increases the average mile-per-gallon has improved as well. From, uh... okay, the average fuel economy across all cars in 1960 was 12.4 miles per gallon. And by 2010 the average fuel economy across all cars is 27.9. Now these numbers really refer to the North American market.

The US Congress declared the official end of the horsepower wars by giving the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions but with the catch that average gas mileage must reach 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. And if that doesn't happen, well, you gotta do it or else! ...Or else what? Or else... I have no idea what they'll do. But then again the Wicked Witch never really says what will happen to Dorothy when the hourglass runs out. We just know shit is going down but we don't know what kind and I imagine the same thing'll be happening here.

But back to the Barracuda. Look at this dash. No tachometer, interesting. No. Instead you have a “performance indicator”. It has settings for idle, economy and power. It’s- it's a vacuum gauge. Just a big vacuum gauge, right here. Performance indicator. It has the original AM radio above an 80s or early 90s Kenwood's tape deck head unit.

Hundred twenty mile per hour speedometer! Maybe? Hm, maybe. Interesting, no symbol of a fuel tank on the fuel gauge or even the word itself. GASOLINE. In the 60s we also saw dimmable rear view mirrors. Right? This's a nice feature. My Falcon doesn't have this.

What's it like to drive? A lot like that Jaguar. Jag-war. (Caption: Yankee Pronunciation) Deal with it. JagWARR. It doesn't accelerate, this thing, it rumbles and makes a great noise but it doesn't accelerate, the Barracuda advances. And keeps advancing. Just keep your foot in it, it'll accelerate, they just didn't put aggressive rear ends in this thing. Again, GT car. Everything's soft, everything's mushy, the brakes are fine...

It's wonderful to drive and it's very easy to drive. It doesn't shake all over the place- heck, it's not even that loud. Automatic? Perfectly acceptable in this. You're not for burnin' tires, just put it in drive and go.

Oh that rear window, oh, you see everything, they can't build- this is beautiful, if I- I keep coming back to this rear window. Acres of glass. Look at the amount of care that was put into the rear window. Something you're not even gonna look at. It's prettiest from the back. Mmm, this is from a time when you could just go for a drive and experience that Saturday feeling on a Tuesday.

1966 Barracuda. It's from an age when bachelorhood was suspicious and businessmen knew the value of letting the client shake harder than him. Men who own this car today have an intrinsic connection to the past and the long arm of nostalgia.

1966 Barracuda. The car for the man who doesn't want kids but rolls the dice and nuts in his girlfriend anyway. Because I've got a Barracuda and all my finances are in order. Because it's 1966 and I can feed a family of five on a pencil pusher's salary.

There are fewer Barracudas of this vintage today because they weren't as popular when they were new as opposed to all the 1970 and 1971 'Cudas. You see those around because euh, muscle. So it's an event when you get to see one of these up close.

While we were filming this review a park ranger approached us to see what we were up to and immediately started geeking out over this car. He was close to offering money for it and if we'd stuck around a little bit longer he probably would've made a bid. That's how excited he was. And that's what the early Barracudas do to people. It's something we all forget we want. It's the promise of simplicity. It's not the future, it's the way back home.


to the tune of (???)

   We are car enthusiasts and Plymouth is our game,
   Never drove this car before, that's a shame,
   Barracuda came out front saying, “Here is Gomer Pyle,”
   And one year before aspartame,
   Don't ask how I know these things.